When and How to Bow in Korea


Just like many Asian countries, bowing is a big part of greetings in Korea. It’s a way to show respect, say hi, thank you, and bye. So if you’re not sure how or when you should bow, watch this video to find out about bowing in Korea!

– When meeting someone in an informal setting in Korea, just a slight tilt of the head is usually ok. This simple bow is also used when saying hello, bye and thank you.

– For more important meetings (or people), the lower you bow, the more respect it shows (it also shows more respect if you hold the bow for a longer period). Hold your hands to the side or in front of you.

– The most respectful bow is called keunjeol (큰절 – “big bow”). This is only used for the most formal occasions and to show the most respect. Koreans typically give their older family members a big bow (keunjeol) on Lunar New Years (설날 – seollal) and the Harvest Festival (추석 – Chuseok). It’s also used for jesa (제사), which is a traditional Korean ceremony that respects ancestors. Also, men will do this to their fiance’s parents when they ask for their hand in marriage. Sometimes instead of a big bow (keunjeol), Korean girls will give 작은절 (jakeunjeol), aka small bow.

Keith Kim is a Korean-American content producer based in Seoul. With his unique perspective and experience balancing these two cultures, he’s produced a guide on How to Survive in Korea - Survival Korean. Follow his journey at Gyopokeith.com, Facebook, and Instagram.

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  1. En says:

    Besides greetings and thanking it is also a form of apology, isnt it?

  2. Sam Tsai says:

    i can’t help but think about g-dragon bowing to selena gomez at the mtv awards 2012 😀

  3. Jeff Elwell says:

    Sadly at work, customers tend to say, “Hey Brah! (short for bother)”. Greeting friends is mostly, “Hey!” and maybe a handshake. Really good friends not seen in awhile, it’s followed with a hug. Family it’s mostly hugs.

  4. sahar says:

    I dont like bow in front of people and human who are equal with me .respect can express with talking formal and polite and other ways
    I only bow for God.
    I have a question if a person from another country come korea she or he must bow to respect them? If dosent what happend?

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